Chapchar Kut - the Time for Thanksgiving

Photo by Pradyoth Chakraborty
Chapchar Kut - is the most joyful festival of Mizoram, India, and celebrated in the month of March every year by the Mizos - the people of Mizoram. It is a seven days harvest festival and people of Mizoram immerse themselves into an atmospheric state of gleefulness and gaiety for these seven days.

Chapchar Kut is celebrated after completion of the cutting of 'jhums'. Jhum cultivation is the major source of farming which is practiced by almost all the Mizos. In this festival, the Mizos organise a big feast to celebrate the success in jhum cutting and farmers cut bamboo forests to make place for jhum or seasonal farming. They also celebrate it as the commencement of spring. Hence, Chapchar Kut is also known as the festival of happiness.

It is believed that the Chapchar Kut festival evolved sometime between 1450-1600 A.D. when the Mizo forefathers inhabit Lentlang. As it is designed to be a festival of joy, all disputes and differences involved in the community are settled during this festive season. Dance and music are the integral parts of the festival. Few days before the festival, hunting parties from the village would go out in the forests and rivers for hunting wild animals, trapping birds and catching fish for feast. It is said that in the ancient times Chapchar Kut was celebrated by the local inhabitants by indulging in drinking sessions. However, with the passage of time the focus of Chapchar Kut has been shifted to music.

Miss Chapchar Kut 2012
The folk music of Mizoram plays a vital role in providing a youthful look to the Chapchar Kut festival. Since the tribal youths of Mizoram are blessed with melodious vocal chords, hence the music performances during Chapchar Kut are the prime attractions of the festival. Another attraction of the fest is the colourful Cheraw dance (bamboo dance).

The first day of the festival is called Lushai Vawk Tlah Ni which literally means 'the day on which the Lushias kill pigs' and pigs are killed by the members of the chief's clan for the feast. On the second day, members of the other clans in the village would kill their pigs for the village feast. The third day is known as Kut day and people spend the night in drinking, singing and dancing. The fourth day is known as Zupui Ni when a particular type of liquor called Zupui is made from well husked rice. In the evening before sunset, young men and girls dressed in their best would gather in the open space of the village for singing and dancing. The fifth day is called Zuthingni and dance and music continues. The last day of the fest is known as Ziapur ni or the day of rest after eating and drinking.